26 April 2023


Co-Creation in mental health – Mental Health Europe’s approach

Mental Health Europe’s Co-Creation Approach is a comprehensive framework empowering diverse stakeholders—people with lived experiences, practitioners, academics, charitable organisations, policymakers, and decision-makers—with essential insights, benefits, and practical tools for effective engagement in mental health co-creation.

Our co-creation approach realigns mental health within a human rights framework and the psychosocial model. Co-creation isn’t just about outcomes; it’s a dynamic journey of growth and discovery, embracing change throughout the process. Co-creation redistributes power among participants, valuing diverse expertise equally. This approach transcends mere checkbox exercises; it’s a cornerstone for effective mental health policies and practices.

To advance our goals, we began by crafting Mental Health Europe’s co-creation definition and approach. Building upon this foundation, we have meticulously designed practical tools and conducted comprehensive training sessions for our members and other stakeholders.


Mental Health Europe’s
definition of co-creation

A collaborative approach involving all actors in mental health working together on an equal basis to develop and implement policies, services, programmes and communication that foster positive mental health according to a psychosocial model and human rights-based approach.


7 Principles of co-creation

1 Inclusivity Co-creation is representative of all groups having a stake and ensures diversity.
2 Equality Everyone’s perspective is acknowledged as essential and valued, and each participant brings their own experience, expertise, skills and insight.
3 Respect Due regard is paid to working together and communicating in a respectful and constructive manner.
4 Reciprocity Reciprocity is a genuine sharing of thoughts, feelings, and experiences between a group where mutual learning occurs, and shared meanings develop.
5 Power sharing Sharing of power recognises different areas of expertise resulting in democratic shared ownership of decisions.
6 Accessibility Everyone involved has equal opportunities to participate and contribute to the process.
7 Transparency The whole process is jointly and clearly outlined and understood.


Our co-creation tools

The Toolkit and the Guidelines were developed by Mental Health Europe’s diverse Co-Creation Task Force, including people with lived experiences, advocates, practitioners, academics, and service providers.

Our tools are living documents and will evolve continually—a testament to ongoing learning and refinement through shared knowledge and experiences gained from implementing co-creation activities at local, regional, and European levels.


The Co-Creation Toolkit: A blueprint for change

Mental Health Europe’s Co-Creation Toolkit acts as a guiding compass for all stakeholders towards a shared understanding and practice of co-creation in mental health. This resource offers insights into the essence of co-creation, its benefits, and practical tools essential for implementation.

Guided by core principles, a training methodology, and planning and evaluation tools, our toolkit fosters environments conducive to impactful co-creation. Its adaptability makes it applicable across diverse contexts—supporting policy development, service redesign, awareness campaigns, educational initiatives, and training programs.

While deeply rewarding, co-creation presents challenges. Our toolkit serves as a comprehensive guide, assisting users in understanding implications, foreseeing and addressing potential issues, and planning effectively.




The Co-Creation Guidelines: exploring co-creation possibilities

These Guidelines complement our co-creation toolkit by providing insights into how co-creation benefits specific stakeholders’ profiles. It offers testimonies from actors who experienced the co-creation approach, as well as examples of promising and good practices of co-creation in mental health in different settings based on a set of criteria.



We are eager to collect more examples to further enrich and diversify this overview of practices. To this purpose we invite stakeholders who have been working in co-creation to use the tool our Cocreation Task Force has set to identify promising and good practices.

The tool is based on a set of indicators that can be used to self-assess any type of project and activity implemented in co-creation. Please access the tool and if you get an outcome of level 4 Proficient or level 5 Expert, get in touch with us to share your practice.




Co-Creation Policy Brief

In this policy brief, we explain Mental Health Europe’s concept of co-creation in mental health and its guiding principles, as well as the relevance of this approach to promote human rights and bring economic and social advancements to the entire society for the benefit of all. The policy brief then focuses on the beneficial effects of adopting a co-creation approach in mental health promotion and prevention. Finally, it presents concrete recommendations and actions on how to apply the co creation approach in practice.



European Mental health Week 2024 – Co-creating the future of Mental Health

Co-creation is the theme of the 2024 edition of European Mental Health Week. You can discover the events, activities and campaigns that are happening here;

European Mental Health Week 2024

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